Everything is beta.

Wait!  Get caught up by reading the first three chapters!

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Okay.  Now on to the steamy Chapter 4.


The sky was still a dark blue, but tinged with pink, by the time Tasia finally entered her apartments, exhausted and ready to put the night’s horror behind her.  She closed the inner door softly when she entered her bedchamber, hoping not to wake her handmaid.  But Mylla was waiting for her, lying crosswise on Tasia’s bed in a thin silk night robe.

The girl rolled onto her side when the door closed, blinking at Tasia and yawning hugely.  “You’re home rather late.”  Mylla waggled her eyebrows.  “Or early, as the case may be.  What time is it?”

“Early.  Late.  Take your pick.”  Tasia hung her cloak next to the door, shimmied out of her baker’s girl shift and hung it as well.  She turned to Mylla wearing only the same rough undergarments she’d searched for so desperately at Markas’s a few hours earlier.  She marveled at how much life could change in the span of three hours, at how heavy a price one could pay for simply oversleeping.

“So?  How was he?” Mylla asked, then answered her own question with, “Good, I hope, if he’s not sending you home until now.”

Tasia sighed, flopped down back-first on the bed beside the girl three years her junior.  “Markas is never good — you know that.  He’s a bore.  And he’s an arrogant and stupid bore, which is all together the worst combination for a man to be.”

Mylla ran the tip of her finger down the exposed skin between the bottom of  Tasia’s brasier and the top of her linen drawers.  The Princess shivered.

“Then why do you still visit him every week?” Mylla asked.  “When we could have just as much fun here with me, in the comfort of the palace?”

Mylla stuck the tip of a finger beneath the string of the linen drawers, then rubbed the plain white cloth between thumb and forefinger.  She made a face.

“And how can you stand to wear these?  They’re so rough.  Don’t they… itch you down there?”

Tasia wrapped her palm around Mylla’s thumb and forefinger.  “Don’t tease me, Myll.  Not tonight.”  She took a deep breath and decided to tell Mylla everything, from the beginning, even though she was sure it was something her father would have told her not to do.  But she never kept secrets from Mylla.  She couldn’t.

“You’ll never believe what happened,” Tasia began.  “Someone dressed as a Wise Man tried to kill me.”

“Kill you?” said Mylla, her tone disbelieving.  She used an elbow to push herself halfway up, searching Tasia’s face for some sign of jest.

“Yes.  And would’ve been successful at it, too, if not for the fact that some poor dumb city guardsmen were having their supper nearby and heard me scream.”

Mylla gasped.  “Tasia.”  She searched the Princess’s face.  “Please tell me you’re having me on.”

Tasia let out a ragged breath, and she felt the control she’d kept tightly wound in her chest all night begin to unfurl.  It was why she liked Mylla so much — she was the only one Tasia felt she could be completely herself with.  She recounted the whole story, from the moment she left Markas’s apartments through to her father’s invocation of her dead mother.

“It was awful, Myll,” she whispered.  “Just awful.  The Wise Man… he had this knife with a black iron blade, and he his eyes were so filled with hate, I couldn’t… I’ve never seen anyone look at me like that, like he’d do anything he could to wipe my existence into the waste bin of Eternity.”

Tears pricked at Tasia’s eyes, and she felt one of them roll out of one corner and down across her temple.

It must’ve been the sight of her mistress’s tears that made Mylla’s own eyes water.  “Oh, Tasia,” she said, and bent over the Princess’s face, gently kissing her forehead.  Mylla stroked the hair from Tasia’s cheeks.  “I can’t lose you.  What would I do without you?”

“Go home and marry some rich lord, most like,” Tasia said in her best street urchin’s accent.

Both girls laughed wetly.

Mylla sniffed, wiping both eyes with the heel of her palm before going back to stroking Tasia’s face.  “Well, that’s going to happen eventually, anyway,” she said.  “But unlike someone else in this bed, I’m not quite of age to marry yet, so you still have me here.  For a while.  Even if you’d rather be rid of me for Markas.”

“Don’t say so.  You know I’d choose you a thousand times over Markas.”

Mylla gave Tasia a devious smile, leaned down, fit her lips against Tasia’s.  Dark hair fell in a curtain around Tasia, blotting out the rest of the bedchamber and what little light there was coming from the low-burning candles still flickering in the window.  Tasia closed her eyes, letting the blackness become complete, disappearing for a sweet moment into a world where there was no Empire, no Markas, no assassin, no Cole, no Father, no Mack or Dawkin or Grizzle.  Disappearing into the world which contained only her — her, and Mylla.

The world where she wanted to live for all Eternity.

Mylla broke the kiss too soon, pulling back and sweeping her long hair to one side.  She grinned at Tasia.  “If you’d choose me a thousand times over Markas, why’d you pick his bed instead of mine tonight?”

Because you would choose Markas over me, if given the chance, Tasia thought bitterly.

But rather than say it, she said to her handmaid, “Your bed?  Are you forgetting your station, young Mylla?”

Mylla huffed.  “Fine, then.  Your bed.  I would sleep in mine occasionally if someone would remember to tell the head chambermaid to replace the mattress.  It’s far too lumpy to get a good night’s sleep in.”

Tasia rolled over swiftly, knocking Mylla off-balance and pushing her onto her back.  “Maybe that’s exactly why it keeps slipping someone’s mind,” she said, pinning Mylla’s wrists beside her head.  “Maybe I’m afraid you’d stop climbing into bed with me in the middle of the night.”  She slipped a hand beneath the opening of Mylla’s robe, running it up the girl’s ribs until she found a bare breast.  She cupped it, sliding her thumb across Mylla’s nipple.

Mylla smiled, watching Tasia’s face.  “Markas.  An assassin.  Your father.  Six-of-the-clock already, with the sun about to rise.  And yet you still have energy enough for me?”

“I will always have energy enough for you.”

“And what if I said no?  If I told you it was more important for you to sleep — to let me sleep?” Mylla asked.

“You’ve never said no before.”

“But if I did?”

Tasia took her hand out from its spot beneath Mylla’s robe and gently tugged at the loosely tied sash around the girl’s waist.  It gave way easily, and Tasia pushed both sides of the robes apart, admiring Mylla’s smooth, unblemished skin under the warm glow of candlelight.

“If you said no,” she said quietly to Mylla, “I would be forced to remind you that I am your princess, and you are my handmaid, serving at my pleasure.”

“And where is it written that handmaids cannot tell their princesses ‘no’?”

Tasia ran her hands lightly down Mylla’s sides, stopping on the curves of her hips.  “It does not need to be written.  It is something everyone knows.”

“Maybe I’ll say no anyway, just to see what you will do.”

Tasia reached between Mylla’s legs.  “You wouldn’t.”

Mylla grabbed the wrist disappearing between her legs.  “Tasia, stop a moment.”

Tasia laughed.  “You’re truly saying no?  You can’t be serious.”

“I am.”  Mylla sat up, crawled on hands and knees to the other side of the bed.

Tasia’s brow furrowed.  Mylla wasn’t actually rejecting her, was she?  For all their teasing banter, the handmaid had always seemed to enjoy the Princess as much as the Princess enjoyed her.

Well.  Almost as much.  Tasia sometimes feared Mylla actually did acquiesce to her wishes simply because Tasia was her superior.  It was the cutting edge of being royal — always wondering if one’s friends were actually one’s friends, or merely more sycophants.

Mylla reached beneath the bed, grunting as she fished for something.


“Give me a moment, Tazy… I know I put it between the mattresses somewhere around — ah!”

Mylla sat up, holding something triumphantly above her head.  Tasia squinted at it, but couldn’t make out what the dark shape was.

“I picked something up for us today while I was out,” Mylla said, walking back to Tasia on her knees across the mattress.  “Look.”

She held the object out, and Tasia took it from her automatically.  It was leather, she saw, cylindrical and a few inches in diameter, but curved.  One end was attached to what appeared to be a complicated belt of some sort.

“What is it?” Tasia asked, turning the leather thing and its straps over in her hands.

Mylla gave a delighted laugh.  “You’re the naughty princess who sneaks out at night to rendezvous with boys who catch your fancy and nearly get yourself killed, and yet you’re asking me what this is?”

“Mylla, that’s not funny.  I thought I might never make it home to you tonight.”

Mylla took the mystery object from Tasia’s hand and bent down, untying Tasia’s linen underwear at both hips before tossing it aside.  She busied herself with the leather straps, wrapping them around Tasia’s waist.

“I know, Princess.  I would have been heartbroken if you’d left me without so much as a warning.  But you didn’t.  So I say that’s reason enough to celebrate,” she said, cinching tight one of the leather straps now encircling Tasia’s thighs.  She tilted her head up.  “Is that too tight?”

Tasia shook her head.  “No, but — oh.”  She gave a soft gasp, forgot completely what she’d planned on saying as Mylla reached between her legs and pressed something soft just inside her.  She looked down, assuming Mylla was teasing her with a finger, but Mylla’s hands were both adjusting the leather cylinder.

Mylla sat back on her heels, letting the silk fabric of her night robe flap open.  “There,” she said, sounding satisfied.  She looked down at Tasia with the slyest of grins.

“What have you… what in the name of all the Gods is that?” Tasia said.  The curved leather cylinder jutted up from her crotch, and as she bent to get a better view, it bobbed slightly, like a dog’s wagging tail.

Still grinning, Mylla inched forward on her knees.  She put a hand around the curved leather cylinder, stroked down the thing suggestively.  When she reached its base, she pressed lightly, and whatever was inside Tasia dipped in a little further.

Tasia shuddered.

“Haven’t you ever wondered,” Mylla whispered, positioning herself so that the leather cylinder’s tip tickled its way between her thighs, “what it would have been like if you had been born with one of these between your legs?”  She reached around Tasia’s back with both hands, untying her brazier.  “Markas would never think he stood had a chance with you; guardsmen would never mistake you for a cheap and willing whore; and your father wouldn’t be nearly so concerned with marrying you off.”

Slowly, Mylla pulled the brazier up and over Tasia’s head.  Once it had joined Tasia’s rough linen drawers on the rug, Mylla lowered her mouth to one of Tasia’s nipples and sucked, then teased it with her teeth.  Her thighs rubbed against the leather at the same time, and every bit of pressure she put on it resulted in a corresponding pressure against Tasia.

“Never,” Tasia breathed.  “I’ve never wanted a boy’s appendage between my legs.  Though if I had one, maybe you’d never leave me for some rich Western Ambassador.  Maybe I would marry you, make you my Empress.”

Mylla laughed musically, grasped Tasia’s hands, pulled the older girl forward as she lowered herself to the pillow.  Tasia placed her hands on either side of Mylla’s face, gazing down at the most beautiful creature she knew.

“I would never marry you if you were a man, Tasia,” Mylla said.  “You would grow up to be a self-involved, spoiled little brat.  Your father would’ve seen to that.  You wouldn’t have been worth the trouble, not even to be your Empress.  Or your mistress.”  She flicked the tip of the leather dildo.  “That’s the best thing about this, you know.  When we finish, it goes back between the mattresses, and you go back to being my lovely, sweet princess.”  Mylla spread her legs wide, hooked her heels around the backs of Tasia’s thighs.  “Now take me.  Show me what you would do with me if you’d been born Nathaniel instead of Natasia.”

Tasia lowered her hips towards Mylla, her eyes for once staring down at the black hair and wet pink flesh between Mylla’s legs instead of the girl’s lovely face.  The tip of the dildo seemed to hesitate as if uncertain, floating half an inch above the handmaid.

“But I can’t feel it when it touches you,” Tasia said.  “What if I hurt…”

But Mylla silenced her by taking the leather shaft with both hands and guiding it inside, letting out a small moan as she did.  The sound seemed to erase the last of Tasia’s hesitancy, and she thrust down and forward, driving the dildo deeper inside her handmaid.  At the same time, as if a reward for good work, the smaller piece of the device inside Tasia dug in, sending an undulating ripple of pleasure down her hips and thighs, up her spine.  Encouraged, she thrust again, harder, and again.

She glanced at Mylla, worried her sudden lack of grace might’ve hurt the girl, but Mylla’s eyes were closed — mouth half ajar, head tilted back.  Tasia gave in to her desire, letting her hips rock up and down in a rhythm all their own as Mylla’s hands clenched into fistfuls of sheets.  Tasia’s hips demanded she go faster, deeper, and she put her hands onto Mylla’s shoulders, pushing the girl down even as she continued to thrust up.  After a minute or two of this, Tasia felt her own orgasm on its way, just on the edge of its sweet release.  Mylla let out a low groan and dug her heels deeper into the backs of Tasia’s legs, her body rocking with a spasm; Tasia’s own body followed suit a moment later.

Tasia let out a long and satisfied moan, then collapsed forward onto Mylla’s chest, the dildo pulling out at the same time with a tug and a wet squelch.

“Mother Moon,” Mylla said between gasps of breath a few moments later.  She rolled Tasia off her, wiped the sweat from her brow.  “I might retract what I said earlier about refusing to be your mistress had you been born Nathaniel.  I still wouldn’t have married you, but you would’ve been good for an occasional fuck.  You seem like you know how to use one of those things properly.  I suppose you should — you’ve had enough practice on the receiving end, haven’t you?”

Tasia laid on her back, said nothing.  Like her, Mylla had already enjoyed her share of male lovers.  If anything, Mylla’s promiscuity was exactly why Tasia had so many men herself.  It seemed so easy for Mylla to be callous, casual about what transpired between them alone in Tasia’s bedchamber.  So Tasia would be callous, too.  If it was only a game to the handmaid, then it would be nothing more than a game to the Princess.

All of which meant that Tasia held her tongue rather than answer Mylla’s question.  Tasia swallowed the comment about how no man had ever pleased her the way Mylla did.  She stared in silence at the moist leather shaft of the dildo jutting upright from her crotch.  The candles cast dancing shadows across it, and it looked like a living thing.

Mylla rose, tied her night robe back on, and padded barefoot from the room.

A minute passed.

“Mylla?” Tasia called.  “Where’d you go?”

No answer.  The girl must have gone out of earshot.

How was it possible, Tasia wondered as she laid alone in the dim bedchamber, for so many wonderful and horrible things to happen all in the same night?  A meaningless, careless night with Markas that nearly ended in her death.  A mad rush towards the Sunfall Gate, escaping a city guardsman who seemed intent on raping her.  A tense meeting with her father, followed by the healing ministrations of Mylla.  A peak of pleasure unlike anything she’d ever felt before, only for her love to walk from the room afterwards without explanation.

Mylla indeed would leave her Princess one day, permanently.  She would leave without thinking twice, as soon as she came of age, as soon as an eligible bachelor with the right-sized coin purse who appealed to both Mylla and her father came along.  And that would be the end of this nighttime secret they shared.  Forever.


But all remained quiet.  The exhaustion Tasia should’ve felt hours ago finally caught her, and her eyes drifted closed.

“I’m back, Princess,” came the sweet handmaid’s voice a minute later.  “I had to make a run to the garderobe.  I picked your delicates up off the floor while I was up… Tasia?”

Tasia forced her eyes back open.  “I’m sorry, Mylla.  I think I must’ve fallen asleep.”

“You’ve had a long night,” Mylla said kindly, stroking Tasia’s cheek.  She glanced down and chuckled.  “But your little soldier seems ready to keep going, doesn’t he?”

Tasia lifted her head enough to see the upright dildo at her midsection, then laid back onto the pillow.  “Let’s not call it a ‘he,’” she said groggily.  “I’ve had enough men for a lifetime already…”

Her eyes bobbed shut again while Mylla fiddled with the bridle-like straps around her thighs and waist.  The handmaid grunted, tugging it off, then settled down beside Tasia, nestling her face against the Princess’s shoulder.  Mylla yawned and pulled the bedcovers up around them.

“Whatever you wish, my Princess,” she said.

What I wish… Tasia thought.  I wish for an Empire in which I could make you my wife, in which our daughters would be our heirs, in which belonging to a royal house wasn’t their prison sentence.  What I wish is…

But she fell asleep still wishing, and dreamed of wishes which could never come true.

Read Chapter 5

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